It’s well into summer now, and a lot of horses are going to spend the rest of the season in a pasture. This is something you have to be well prepared for, especially if your horse lives in stables all year round! Let me give you 7 things to prepare before your horse goes on vacation. 🏖
#1 – Have a dietary transition period of 8 to 10 days 🍔 + 🍟 ==> 🥕+🥒+🥦
⏩ Learn more: Cereal free feeds
Dietary transitions aren’t quite a habit we have yet, but it’s really important. A brutal change in your horse’s diet is kind of like when you go on a trip on the other side of the world. We take some time to adjust… For your horse it’s the same. There’s a risk of some “digestive problems” 💩
What you have to keep in mind is that you absolutely need to have a dietary transition period of 8 to 10 days.
There are a few diets you can adopt:
1/ Feed your horse the same concentrates
In this case, no problem, just remember to gradually decrease it’s portion every day. Less activity = less food! If you’re not careful, your horse can get too fat!
2/ Feed your horse concentrates which are different from the usual ones
In this case start gradually mixing the new concentrates and the old ones to have a smooth transition.
3/ Don’t feed your horse any concentrates and let it live on 100% fresh grass
In this case gradually decrease the daily portion and give your horse more hay before it’s out in the field!
#2 – Let your horse out in the paddock alone after work
If your horse isn’t turned out in the paddock for the rest of the year, it’s important to have a smooth transition here as well.
The important thing is to avoid your horse being a bit silly and hurting itself. Start to let it loose in a small paddock after a good work session. If your horse is tired, it should be calmer and less prone to jumping around. You can put on bell boots and protections, just to be safe.
However, don’t overprotect your horse. Horses are expressive animals, and allowing them to express “behaviors specific to their species” is part of the definition of animal wellbeing. It’s important to let them convey their enthusiasm… their own way!
#3 – Let your horse out in small groups in a paddock 👯
If your horse is going to be on vacation in a group with other horses, it has to get used to be with some friends first.
As I was saying in the article on changing stables, social interactions are really important for our horses. Unfortunately we’re often afraid of them getting hurt and we’re not really letting them touch each other, or feel each other. That’s a mistake!
By forbidding the contact, we are creating these “socially awkward” horses. If they never had any interactions with other horses, they can’t know how to “live in society”.
So let your horse be nice to other horses! Let them smell each other, give each other kisses. Find a friend your horse gets along with and let them loose together. That’s a good start!
#4 – Find the right fly repellent
There are a lot of fly repellent available. It’s important to note that their action is pretty short because it gets diluted by the horse’s sweat. You have to reapply it often. It’s important to look at the dilution indications!
“Every year, veterinarians are called to save intoxicated horses.” Marine Slove, Veterinary
Also, test the repellent on a small area beforehand to see if your horse isn’t allergic to it. You don’t think it can happen before it does…
Learn more: Sweet itch
#5 – Use a full honeycomb rug and a fly mask 👨🚀
It’s ugly, let’s face it. But still, it’s much better for your horse than getting bit the entire day! By using a full honeycomb rug (which protects the neck and the stomach) with tight mesh, your horse will be safe from aggressive insects like horseflies.
Same for the fly masks, your horse will look like an idiot but it will be safe from harm. 🐝
#6 – Gradually decrease your horse’s workload
It’s like with the dietary transition, we don’t usually take enough time to prepare your horse for a halt in their training regimen. We should though.
To avoid myositis, you have to gradually decrease your horse’s workload. Take advantage of the dietary transition to do so. 8 to 10 days give you plenty of time!
Start by decreasing the time at canter, without decreasing your session time. Lastly, decrease the total session time. By the end of your transition, about 20 minutes per session is good.
Learn more: How to avoid myositis?
#7 – Bring the farrier
Lastly, bring the farrier to remove the shoes, at least from the hind legs if your horse is going to the pasture with other horses. It’s always safer.
If your farrier is coming to shoe your horse’s forelegs, inform them that your horse will be out for the next month or so. Maybe he’ll adapt your horse’s shoes!
If your horse doesn’t have shoes, have the farrier or the podiatrist trim the hoof so your horse is ready for its vacation!
Have a great summer!